If you're looking for beaches and warm weather, Tampa might be your next move. Learn about one of the best places to retire, its lifestyle and more.
Many people are drawn to Tampa because of the weather and beaches, but it’s also a large metropolitan area that offers the convenience of city living.
The area is home to numerous colleges and professional sports teams. 2020 was a banner year for Tampa sports fans: the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, the Lightning claimed the Stanley Cup and the Rays won an American League pennant.
Tampa is ranked the 32nd-best place to live in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. The city also ranked sixth among the best places to retire and the best places to live in Florida.
Living in Tampa: What to expect
The Tampa Bay area is a large metropolis that includes Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. It’s more than just vacation and recreational spots, though there is a robust tourism economy. If you’re interested in work/life balance and enjoy outdoor activities like boating, swimming and adventurous trips to Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay might be your dream location.
There are diverse neighborhoods and a variety of homes to fit any type of budget. Florida has no income tax. Homes have traditionally been more affordable here compared to the rest of the country, but the prices are increasing. There are fewer houses on the market than buyers, driving prices up. Like other parts of the country, many buyers pay over the listing price.
“Tampa is experiencing explosive growth,” said Kevin Bupp, the founder and CEO of Sunrise Capital Investors in Tampa who invests in real estate across the country.
In the past 12 months, the year-over-year rent growth has averaged between 20% and 30%, which is unprecedented. The economy is booming with plenty of businesses and a healthy job market.
Walkable areas in Tampa
For most residents, a car is a necessity. There are walkable neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay area, though most residents drive. You will find a variety of grocery stores, restaurants and shops within close proximity to accommodate your needs wherever you settle.
Tampa has a Walk Score of 49, which means most residents need a car to complete their errands. There are public transit options that include bus lines and trains. Tampa also has some biking infrastructure for residents who prefer to bicycle. If you do plan on driving, you may want to scope out the available parking options nearby ahead of time.
Best public schools in Tampa
Tampa is a great area for families, with schools rated well above average in the state and country.
Here are the top elementary schools and middle schools based on enrollment, and the top three high schools based on national rankings in U.S. News & World Report.
Top 3 elementary schools
- Florida Connections Academy
- Turner-Bartels K-8 School
- Henderson Hammock Charter School
Top 3 middle schools
- Florida Connections Academy
- Turner-Bartels K-8 School
- Farnell Middle School
Top 3 high schools
- Plant High School
- Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School
- Sickles High School
Commute time in Tampa
At 24 minutes, the commute times in Tampa are slightly shorter than the national average. Most people in Tampa drive to work, with 78.1% driving alone and another 8.4% carpooling.
The remainder of citizens walk, ride their bikes or take public transit. About 2.5% of Tampa residents take mass transit compared to the national average of 5.1 %.
If you’re vacationing in Tampa, you might be tempted to live here permanently for the weather alone. The weather is good for outdoor activities near the water. But if you don’t like heat and humidity on a regular basis, it might not be a good fit. The hot months last nearly half of the year, with July averaging 90 degrees. They also tend to see a lot of rain in the same months, making this area of the country fairly humid.
The hot season lasts from May through October, with an average temperature of 86 degrees. The hottest month is July, where the average temperature is 90.
The cold season only lasts a little more than two months, from December through February. The average high during the cold season is 74 degrees.
Tampa gets rain all year long, with the heaviest rainfall during the hot season. The muggy season lasts more than seven months out of the year.
Tampa crime rate
The overall crime rate in Tampa is 20% lower than the national average, and it’s safer than 23% of the cities in the US. However, Tampa does experience more violent crimes than the national average.
Violent crimes are higher than the average in Florida, with 520 incidents per 100,000 people in Tampa. The Florida average is 384. Property crimes are lower than average in Tampa, with 1,365 reported per year (per 100,000 people). The annual average in Florida is 1,769.
Tampa city population
Tampa is the third-largest city in Florida and the 47th-largest in the US. It’s in Hillsborough County and has a current population of 404,636. The median age is 35.7 years.
Tampa Bay is on Florida’s west coast. St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa make up the Tampa Bay area, which is the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the southeastern United States. Before the United States acquired Florida in 1816, it had been a Spanish settlement. Prior to that, it was home to indigenous people. In recent years, Florida’s population has continued to swell, surpassing New York. It is currently the third-most populated state behind California and Texas.
Cost of living in Tampa
The cost of living is around the national average for most things. For instance, prices for groceries are just slightly above average but below average for rent and healthcare.
Not counting rent, Tampa is 24.5% less expensive than New York. This is notable because Tampa has many of the same amenities, though, for some people, the weather in Tampa is much more attractive.
Median household income in Tampa
The median household income in Tampa is $53,833, and the median income per person is $36,169 per year. According to the most recent census, a little more than 18% of the population in Tampa lives below the poverty level.
Tampa neighborhood map
Top 5 Tampa neighborhoods by population density
Photo Credit: Viavel Tours/Shutterstock
Harbour Island is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Tampa and rates as the highest-ranked local neighborhood, according to Niche’s 2018 Best Places to Live in America report. Many of the area’s best restaurants are in this neighborhood. It’s part of downtown Tampa, accessible via bridge or water taxi. Harbour Island has some of the top-rated schools and beautiful homes that range from small condos to large estates.
Harbour Island is across the Garrison Channel from downtown Tampa.
Old West Tampa
Photo Credit: Ebyabe/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Old West Tampa is one of the highest-rated neighborhoods for single people and families. The housing and rent prices here are 14% less than the US average. It’s a family-friendly neighborhood that’s walkable, with plenty of shops and amenities.
The area is bordered by Interstate 275 to the south, Armenia Avenue to the west, Saint Joseph Street to the north and Rome Avenue to the east.
Courier City is popular with young professionals, though the schools are also highly rated for young families. Most people here rent their homes. The neighborhood has a young, urban feel and is ranked as the seventh-best neighborhood in Tampa, according to Niche.com.
The area is also known as Oscawana, and it’s bordered by John F. Kennedy Boulevard to the north, Rome Avenue to the east, Swann Avenue to the south and Armenia Avenue to the west.
Northeast Tampa is a more middle-class, lower-middle-class neighborhood. The home and rental prices are lower, and the area has a lot of younger professionals and families.
This neighborhood is bordered by the Hillsborough River on its northern edge. To the east, it’s bordered by Del Rio, with Hillsborough Avenue to the south and 40th Street to the west.
North Tampa is a mix of suburban and urban, with many families. The schools are above average, and there are several restaurants, shops and activities.
It’s situated just south of University, with Sulphur Springs to the south, University Square to the east and Nebraska Avenue to the west.
Median home price in Tampa
The home prices in Tampa are currently on the rise. In October 2021, the median sale price was $340,000, and the median listing price was $227 per square foot. However, Tampa is still considerably more affordable than other southern Florida cities like Naples and Miami.
Average rent in Tampa
The median rent for a studio apartment in Tampa is $1,425, with studios as high as $1,514 and as low as $1,204. The median rent for two-bedroom apartments is $1,388 but can be as high as $1,796.
Moving to Tampa
The cost of moving to Tampa varies, depending on the size of the home you’re moving from and the area of the country where you’re currently located. If you can move your belongings without hiring a moving company, that is the least expensive route. If you’re moving across the country, the cost is based on the size of the truck or pod you need to rent.
If you’re hiring movers in the Tampa area, the cost can average anywhere from $340 for a small studio to $1,805 for a large, five-bedroom home.